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One of Rhode Island’s most famous basketball alums was in the stands Friday afternoon when the Rams returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.
Lamar Odom celebrated with his alma mater in the locker room after its convincing 84-72 first-round victory over sixth-seeded Creighton in Sacramento.
Before Odom won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, married (and divorced) reality TV star Khloe Kardashian and endured a public struggle with substance abuse, the 14-year NBA veteran spent one memorable season at Rhode Island. The versatile forward averaged 17.6 points and 9.4 rebounds during the 1998-99 season, leading Jim Harrick’s Rams to 20 wins and the program’s most recent appearance in the NCAA tournament.
It was Odom who hit the most memorable shot of that season. His pull-up 3-pointer to beat Temple in the Atlantic 10 tournament title game secured an NCAA bid for Rhode Island.
Odom’s appearance at Friday’s game was somewhat of a surprise since he’s only a couple of months removed from leaving a rehab facility near San Diego. In a brief interview with USA Today’s Josh Peter on Friday, Odom said “life is great” and he’s as “good as ever.”
Rhode Island surely made Odom proud on Friday when it maintained a double-digit lead against Creighton for much of the second half. The 11th-seeded Rams will meet third-seeded Oregon on Sunday in their first second-round game since they reached the 1998 Elite Eight.
More March Madness coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Controversial flagrant foul call costs Seton Hall NCAA game
• Arkansas player credits success to his dad locking him out
• Las Vegas goes nuts over wild NCAA game ending
• Meet Duke’s biggest villains … in Lego form
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